Interview with participating artists MSLM
Friday April 20th 2007
MAMA interviewed three artists who participate in the exhibition MSLM Female Fashion Now: Mada van Gaans, Simone de Koning, and Iñiy Sanchez.
Mada van Gaans

Who are you, what's your educational background, and for how long have you been active in this business?
My name is Mada van Gaans and I graduated from the MA at the Fashion institute Arnhem in 2004, after studying at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. I did internships at Bernhard Willhelm and Oscar Sulleyman. During my studies I worked on a freelance basis at a forecast agency, in these years I saw a lot of the fashion-world. I presented my graduation collection during an exhibition in Institute Neérlandais and a catwalk show in Musse Galiera during the Haute Couture Week in Paris.
At the moment I'm working on collections for my own label as well as doing commissions in collaborations with other companies, such as a special Need You by Mada van Gaans collection for leather/suede label 'Need You' and limited edition pieces for the luxury watches Belle Arti collection of 'Longines'. I will show my next collection for SS08 at Rome Fashion Week and during Amsterdam Fashion Week both in July 2007.
At the end of this summer my clothes will be available in several stores in the Netherlands such as SPRMRKT in Amsterdam, Wendela van Dijk in Rotterdam and L'Empresse in Den Haag.

How did you feel about participating to the MSLM project?
When I was asked for the MSLM exhibition I realized that I was already inspired before by cultures where the Muslim religion is important. For the collection of summer 2006 I used a lot of traditional batik fabrics from Indonesia that are normally used for men. Also the waking eye is integrated in that collection.

What was your assignment and what was your interpretation?
The assignment for the exhibition was to design an outfit for the new female Muslim generation. This new generation is dressed in the latest fashion, the only difference is the headscarf. I thought that Muslim women had to wear dresses that would cover them more rather than what I see on the streets; the funny thing is that a lot of young women are dressed in very tight clothes that shows of the female figure. I wanted to do something with this idea and designed a catsuit of lace that covers the whole body but shows the female figure. To cover the delicate parts of the body I made a dress of a fabric that, in my eyes, is normally used for traditional Burqa's. Three years ago I found little carpets that are usually used for praying. I was intrigued by it and thought it made a beautiful material for a luxurious handbag that you can unfold when you want to pray. Furthermore I designed a special piece of new head-accessory together with a creative friend Dezibelle who did the production. It is a new way of wearing your headscarf especially in the winter when the wind is cold outside.

Do you have your own style and can you describe it?
My collections are often inspired by myths revolving around female figures, elements of nature and influences from other cultures. I usually build my collection around a story, consisting of different characters. The designs are feminine, young, chic, strong, sensual, fluid, detailed and made of fine and delicate fabrics.
Traditional craftsmanship from other cultures is important for me and I find it a challenge to translate these techniques into new designs. The brilliant aspect of designing to me is the fact that it enables me to communicate my fantasies to other people.

What's the output of this project to you?
MG: My interpretation of the theme MSLM was more to use elements out of the culture to make a catwalk piece or an outfit that you can wear to an exclusive fashionable occasion. The cloth is not especially meant for a MSLM girl, but is made for every woman who wants to look femine.The exhibition gave me the possibility to get in contact with very driven en enthusiastic MSLM women with new ideas for the future and whom are very open to new images in clothing and accessories.

Simone de Koning

Who are you, what's your education and have you been active in this business for long?
My name is Simone de Koning, I'm 23 years old. After my education Styling, Interior and Photography at the Sint Lucas Academy in Boxtel (2005), I've started to concentrate more on fashion-styling. In order to do so I took a course fashion-styling at the B-academy in Amsterdam (2006). From then I've been working as a freelance fashion-stylist and work together with photographers and visagists on fashion-productions. For me it's important and interesting to always know the latest trends so I can formulate a concept from which I realize a shoot, together with the whole team of photographers and make-up and hairstylists.

How did you feel about participating to the MSLM project
A while ago I was approached by Andreia Costa and Natasa Heydra, they've asked me to create a fashion-production for the magazine. I was immediately very enthusiastic and started to gather a team. I've realized two productions for MSLM magazine and I've also styled a few of the mannequins in the Showroom.

What was your assignment and what was your interpretation?
First I've deepened my knowledge of the female Moslem culture and I've watched a lot of the Moslem girls in the streets of-course. It struck me how fashionable and polished they always dress. They tend to be very colour-coordinated, most of the young girls bring the same colour back into accessories such as shoes, belt and headscarf.
I came to the conclusion that I wanted to make a series that would appeal to the girls' fashion-sense.
It had to be really Now!, they should really want to wear it and it should inspire them to new ideas. Of-course I had to apply their basic frame of rules so no décolleté, short-sleeved tops and the crotch area should be covered. In fact; basically only the feet and hands can be naked, the female curves must be covered or camouflaged.

For the first production I've shopped low budget because i wanted to show girls that with a little money they could buy these outfits themselves. Also, for this shoot I kept the basic set of rules strictly in mind.
As a location I choose the Drunense Duinen because it has the look and feel of a desert, which was perfect for my concept. My starting-point for this shoot were four animals; the leopard, the peacock, the swan and the giraffe. As said earlier, I've searched clothing at the more affordable shops, such as Zara, Mango, Noa Noa and H&M and looked for colours that would match the animals (leopard; brown/black/gold, peacock; blue/green, swan; white/pink and giraffe; yellow-tones).

For the second shot I let the basic rules go a bit. I didn't use a traditional headscarf in every picture, but looked for more creative ways and solutions, such as a hoodie as headscarf or a scarf cover by a baseball-cap. For this so-called Remix shoot I've used more expensive labels and designers, such as Monique van Heist, Chalayan, Margiela and Iñiy Sanchez. This shoot was shut in the studio, so the clothes would get all the attention.

What's the output of this project to you?
I've became more aware of the fact that Moslem girls can be very fashionable, even though they have to follow some basic rules. These 'limitations' do'nt mean that they can't dress trendy, it just requires more creativity.

Iñiy Sanchez

Who are you, what's your education and have you been active in this business for long?
My name is Iñiy Sanchez van Oort and I'm 23 years old. I've graduated Fashion in june 2005 at the Willem de Kooning Academy. After that I've got a master degree at the Fashion Institute Arnhem (FIA). In january 2007 I've graduated from this education with a catwalk-show during the Amsterdam Internation Fashion Week and one month later me and my fellow-students presented our collections during the pret à porter fashionweek in Paris.

How did you feel about participating to the MSLM project?
I had already heard a lot about the project of Natasa Heydra and I felt it was a very special initiative. The whole concept around female moslem fashion was certainly something that was missing at the moment. Young female moslems are getting attention in the media, but it's never about fashion nore ever done from the girls perspective.
I was very pleased to meet the girls from the editorial staff, to hear their opinion and share their point of view on fashion. They were very enthusiastic on my part in the project, which made it even more fun for me to participate.

What was your assignment and what was your interpretation?
After a few brainstorms with Natasa we came up with the idea to make a pattern, that could be added to the MSLM magazine. The idea behind it is that the girls could not find the right clothes, to dress themselves by their specific frame of rules without looking boring. If they find anything that suits them, it's most of the time not really their cup of tea. This forces them to layer their clothes, which basically isn't a problem, because this makes them come up with fun ideas and solutions. But sometimes they would like an alternative; this was the starting-point for my design.
I've designed a few dresses that would suit the wishes of the moslem-female, but it also had to be a design that any other (western) girl would want to wear. It had to offer different possibilities and with one design many style-variations had to be made possible, also the pattern couldn't be too difficult since a large group of people should be able to understand and make it themselves.
So i've made a few test-models and showed them to the editorial staff and they unanimously choose for one design, especially because this dress offers the most variation-possibilities. This design was translated to a pattern in different sizes and was added to the magazine. For the exhibition I've created to designs from this pattern; one golden/sand-coloured top combined with darkblue trousers and secondly as a dress in fine knit jersey.

Is this a typical Sanchez design
I guess so; it was especially made for this assignment. The girls all felt that my last collection fitted their taste perfectly. So I would: yes.
Rules that apply for moslem girls also suit my designs; reticence, layering, volume. I do not have a specific style yet, since I've only started out... however... every design that I make is in fact a Sanchez design.

What's the output of this project to you?
Of course I hope that people will execute the design in as many styles and colours as possible; that would be fantastic!